…the “West” including Utah has been significantly negatively impacted by an extended “drought” … does it truly make sense to use copious amounts of water to mine tar sands…?
Nation’s First Tar Sands Mine Stirs Water, Environmental Fears Out West
By David Hasemyer, InsideClimate News … Aug 16, 2012 … http://insideclimatenews.org/news/20120816/utah-oil-tar-sands-mining-bitumen-water-pr-spring-limonene-alberta-oil-sands-groundwater-pollution-drought
U.S. Oil Sands, a Canadian company, has leased about 32,000 acres in Utah for tar sands mining. Credit: David Hasemyer, InsideClimate News
MOAB, UTAH—To the ancient Indians who roamed the Colorado Plateau in what is now eastern Utah, the black globs of sticky, smelly bitumen they picked up from the sandy soil mystified them so much they called the strange substance "rocks that burn."
Today, the bitumen that fascinated the Indians for its mysterious quality of combustion is the focal point of a battle over whetherbitumen—a thick, tarry substance also known as tar sands oil—should be mined in Utah, which harbors the nation’s largest oil sands deposits.
According to the Utah Geological Survey, about 25 billion barrels of bitumen are buried on state and federal land. If every drop of that oil was extracted, it would supply all the nation’s current oil needs for a little more than three years.
Utah regulators already have issued permits to an up-start Canadian energy development company that hopes to mine nearly 6,000 acres. The Calgary-based company, U.S. Oil Sands Inc., has scooped open a two-acre test pit in its first step toward full-scale production. If it keeps to its timetable, the nation’s first sizeable oil sands mine will be operating in this largely unspoiled wilderness by early 2014.
But even as U.S. Oil Sands is finalizing its plans and calling its operation "shovel ready," two environmental organizations have stepped up their efforts to keep oil sands mining out of Utah. They say that ripping open the land for bitumen is an imprudent and desperate attempt to slake the national thirst for oil—and that it threatens what little water there is in a vast yet delicate ecosystem. According to a letter written by the Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining, "It is expected that the mine will use 116 gallons of water per minute on a 24-hour basis."
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